Review: Childish Gambino’s “Because the Internet”

(Photo: Vanyaland)

Donald Glover, best known as one of the writers of the TV-series 30 Rock, his work with stand up comedy, his role on Community, and his rap persona, Childish Gambino. Glover’s fame was already there with 30 Rock and his stand up work but it’s not until he released his third mixtape Cul De Sac and his debut EP under the name Childish Gambino that his rap fame was starting to arise. During the same year as his EP, he released his debut album Camp, which was a favorite among many hip hop listeners that year but it didn’t leave the same impression on me. I felt that the production of Camp wasn’t too special as well as the lyricism and themes on it. Overall, that album reminded me of Drake’s Thank Me Later but replacing the heartbreaks and past relationship themes with Glover’s insecurities and a ton of cartoon references that made me feel nostalgic and bored by the end. I get that he was trying to create an alter ego but it was portrayed poorly with all of his insecurities and the stories weren’t very interesting overall. However, now we have his sophomore LP, Because the Internet, a new story with his same character. The question is, did I end up enjoying this new story of his or not?

Because the Internet comes with a 60 page script that build up the narrative to the tracks on the album. The main character is portrayed as a silver-spoon protagonist who is depressed; Why is he depressed, you may ask? Honestly, it never answers why he is or what led him to feeling this way. This script leaves lots of questions unanswered but I found the story and the character to be so bland that I didn’t end up noticing these unanswered questions until the end. I feel that lots of the characters traits and emotions are nothing more than average human emotions. We go through a series of events that don’t have much logic or a backstory to them, such as the part where the protagonist is waiting in a car that’s outside of a night club where his friend is witnessing a violent shooting. Can we at least know why the protagonist is waiting in the car outside instead of hanging out with his friend in the first place? After lots of illogical and confusing events, he decides to become a drug dealer just to end up getting killed at the end. I found the script to be bland and underwhelming with a lot more focus on the protagonist’s bland character traits rather than the story which makes it feel unbalanced; not to mention that the script leaves us with more questions than answers.

Because the Internet has much better and profound production than Camp had to offer. You have Donald Glover himself as an executive producer along with acts such as Thundercat, Christian Rich, and Pop Levi. You have trap influenced instrumentals which are similar to his 2012 mixtape Royalty. I feel that these kinds of instrumentals and samples fit well with Gambino’s flow and silly punchlines. I’m glad to hear Gambino leaving the poppier sugary sound of Camp but I still feel that he still has yet to discover his original sound. The slower paced tracks on this album feel like a copy of tracks on Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, except where Frank Ocean has a smooth voice with good range, Gambino’s singing voice is one of my least favorite elements on some of these tracks. On the track Flight of the Navigator, you have a guitar loop playing over bass drums over him singing throughout the whole track. However, what makes this track suffer the most is the annoying sample clip of a guy yelling in what seems to be a “jungle type” call in the background, I find this to be distracting from the overall theme of the song. Putting those soft paced songs aside, there are a few tracks on here that did happen to interest me. The lead single off of this album V. 3005 managed to please me with it’s production which balances Gambino’s poppy sound along with the new style of production on the album. I love the synths, snares, and heavy bass all throughout this track. Donald’s flow is good and manages to fit throughout the whole track. The opening track Crawl manages to please my ear with it’s industrial and trap influenced production which reminds me of Yeezus. I loved the hook and Gambino’s flow throughout this whole track.

Overall I loved the production that Donald Glover brought to the table on this album but the weak lyricism, singing, and flow on a handful of these tracks made me not like this album as much. I don’t hate this album but I don’t love it either, I’ll just let this album pass.

Favorite Tracks: V. 3005, Crawl, Worldstar, Dial Up, Shadows, Sweatpants

Least favorite track: Flight of the Navigator

Script rating: 4/10
Album rating: 6.5/10